Twenty years after Hollywood makeup artist Carol Shaw founded Lorac, her signature color cosmetics line, the brand is starting a new chapter, fueled by an infusion of cash from a private equity firm and a roster of products that will roll out throughout 2016.
Shaw — the daughter of a hairstylist father and a manicurist mother — was practically born into the beauty world, but didn’t begin formulating her own cosmetics until a sensitive-skin issue prompted her to do so (along with a distinct lack of love for the products she was using on clients such as Cindy Crawford, Nicole Kidman and Debra Messing).
In December, Encore Consumer Capital, a San Francisco-based private equity firm, took a stake (exact amount not disclosed) in the Valencia, Calif.-based business. Shaw continues as founder, maintaining key roles in product development and public relations, and has handed the running-the-business reins to Tim McMeekan, who has been named chief executive officer of Lorac. Betsy Hamlett has also joined the team as vice president of marketing and product development.
“The best is yet to come,” Shaw promised. “Kevin [Murphy, managing director of Encore Consumer Capital] and his team are brilliant, and have the resources, knowledge and experience to build strong brands. I’m so excited to be working with them.”
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“We are passionate about what Lorac stands for: high-quality and accessible professional makeup artist formulations that bring red carpet looks to everyday life,” McMeekan said.
Encore targets companies with between $10 million and $100 million in annual revenues where Encore’s strong operating expertise in strategy development, brand marketing and distribution expansion can help drive performance, noted Murphy.
Encore also has an investment stake in color line Butter London and MyChelle Dermaceuticals, and in the past had a stake in Tarte Cosmetics. The firm has raised more than $600 million in committed equity capital and has invested in 24 platform companies. Encore is investing out of its $260 million third fund, which closed in 2015.
Shaw acted particularly proud of her spring 2016 collection. “The overarching theme is the no-makeup makeup looks,” she said. “Everything is soft and easy to wear.”
The offerings include which includes an extension of the popular Porefection complexion franchise, a sheer option in eight shades (each $34) infused with vitamins A and E, which she promises will give users a “luminous” look. Also coming is Color Source Buildable Blush, an antioxidant infused formula that can be used sheer or layered for a more dramatic look. It will be available in 10 shades, each $22.
Shaw is also doing several products exclusively for two of her largest customers, Ulta and Kohl’s. Ulta will get two limited-edition eyeshadow palettes (one nudes, the other for smoky eyes), each $30. Kohl’s will get four exclusive shades of Shaw’s Alter Ego Lipstick, each $17, and three exclusive lipstick and coordinating lip gloss sets, each $32.
Over the years, Shaw said, social media has proven to be a boon for her brand. “When I started there was no Instagram, no Facebook, no Twitter,” she said. “Social media allows smaller brands like mine space to compete on a level playing field. Once, it was all about print advertising. That has changed and evolved.”